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Black Women Still Face Major Health Disparities. Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke Is Hoping To Change That

Black Women Still Face Major Health Disparities. Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke Is Hoping To Change That
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The disparities in health statistics are glaring when it comes to how Black women fare.

Black women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes compared to their White counterparts. They are 43 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than their White counterparts. And Black women have higher rates of obesity, hypertension and fibroids.

These figures, coupled with the current administration’s agenda to dismantle healthcare in the United States, has one Congresswoman speaking out.

On Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Yvette D. Clarke introduced a resolution that would add Black Women’s Health Week to the roster of national health observances. It’s a necessary move that will hopefully shine a spotlight on the health disparities that Black women experience and call for more funding to address the inequalities.

“Most of the aforementioned health inequities could be resolved if not for the lack of clinical trials and limited research dollars that incorporate the lived experiences of Black women and are directed toward the improvement of the health of Black women,” she said in her proposed resolution.  

The numbers are daunting, but Black women have made significant strides in the areas of teen pregnancy, new AIDS cases and the overall use of contraception. Clarke, who serves as the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, hopes that the progress continues in all areas of Black women’s health.

“Part of my personal fight is to ensure that Black women’s health is part of the healthcare conversation and that our healthcare needs are addressed,” Clarke told ESSENCE. “One step in ensuring that Black women’s voices are heard is the Black Women’s Health Week resolution that I’ve introduced.”

In addition to outlining the ways in which African-American women are disproportionately affected by many health conditions, Clarke also delves into the economic inequalities that play a significant role in why Black women’s health is at a critical state. From the lack of funding for research to the unfortunate fact that Black women make 64 cents for each dollar White men make, the resolution Clarke presented to Congress tells a compelling story about why it’s not only appropriate, but also necessary to focus attention on one of the most marginalized groups in the country.

“Despite the immense improvement in their health, emotional well-being, and economic security, Black women are still at risk for poor health and economic outcomes, and should be a priority population in this Nation,” the bill reads.

At work, at home, and in the personal lives of African-American women, there are rectifiable factors that are playing into the detriment of our health. As Clarke suggests, it’s high time the country recognizes that.